5E Is disarming broken in D&D 5e?
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  1. #1
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    Is disarming broken in D&D 5e?

    The optional rule for disarming (DMG p271) is as follows:

    A creature can use a weapon attack to knock a weapon or another item from a target's grasp. The attacker makes an attack roll contested by the target's Strength (Athletics) check or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. If the attacker wins the contest, the attack causes no damage or other ill effect, but the defender drops the item.The attacker has disadvantage on its attack roll if the target is holding the item with two or more hands. The target has advantage on its ability check if it is larger than the attacking creature, or disadvantage if it is smaller.

    It doesn't specify where the dropped weapon lands, so it seems reasonable to assume that it lands in the same square as the owner.

    However, it seems that picking up an object (such as a dropped weapon) can be part of a creatures movement during it's turn, which means that it can pick up the weapon before making an attack. End result? Disarming is pointless.

    Is it correct that a creature could just pick up the weapon? Perhaps Disarm only works in conjunction with a second action on the part of the attacker: to grab the weapon, to kick it away, or to shove the creature away from the square where the weapon lands. Is that the intention of the writers, do you think? It seems convoluted. The whole rule section seems unfinished. Am I missing something?


    UPDATE: Thanks for all the replies. I am tending towards a house ruling.


    INTERACTING WITH OBJECTS AROUND YOU OPTIONAL RULE VARIANT

    This rule amends the rules for interacting with an object as part of your movement (PHB 190). It makes interacting more risky when engaged in melee. In particular, it makes the optional Disarm Action rule (DMG p271) more effective, because it becomes more dangerous to pick up a dropped item whilst engaged in melee.


    Here are a few examples of the sorts of thing you can do in tandem with your movement and action:

    • draw or sheathe a sword
    • withdraw a potion from your backpack
    • remove a ring from your finger
    • stuff some carried food into your mouth
    • plant a banner in the ground
    • fish a few coins from your belt pouch
    • drink all the ale in a flagon
    • pull the hood of your cloak up and over your head
    • turn a key in a lock
    • tap the floor with a 10-foot pole
    • hand an item to another character


    NEW: while engaged in melee, interacting with an object that is not held or on your person grants an attack of opportunity (a reaction, as per PHB p195).

    • open or close a door
    • take a bauble from a table
    • pick up a dropped axe
    • throw a lever or a switch
    • pull a torch from a sconce
    • take a book from a shelf you can reach
    • extinguish a small flame
    • put your ear to a door
    • kick a small stone
    • stuff some carried food from a plate into your mouth
    • pick up a mask to don it


    DISARMING (DMG p271) OPTIONAL RULE VARIANT

    A creature can use a weapon attack to knock a weapon or another item from a target's grasp. The attacker makes an attack roll contested by the target's Strength (Athletics) check or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check.

    The attacker has disadvantage on its attack roll if the target is holding the item with two or more hands. The target has advantage on its ability check if it is larger than the attacking creature, or disadvantage if it is smaller.

    If the attacker wins the contest, the attack causes no damage or other ill effect, but the defender drops the item.


    NEW: The attacker may elect to send the item flying to land in a random space adjacent to the target (DMs choice) by repeating the contest and winning. Alternatively, the attacker may elect to catch the item by repeating the contest using Dexterity (Acrobatics). Catching the item is a free action.


    DISARMING (DMG p271) OPTIONAL RULE VARIANT 2

    NEW: If this makes Disarm too powerful in your game, then apply the following:

    Make normal Attack to see if you hit the object in the targets hand.
    If you succeed, hold a quick contest of Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) versus target's Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics).

    By increasing the number of rolls required to succeed, this increases the chance of failure.


    BATTLEMASTER’S DISARMING ATTACK FEATURE (PHB p74) OPTIONAL RULE VARIANT

    Disarming Attack. When you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can expend one superiority die to attempt to disarm the target, forcing it to drop one item of your choice that it’s holding. You add the superiority die to the attack’s damage roll, and the target must make a Strength saving throw. On a failed save, it drops the object you choose.

    NEW: The object flies to land in a space adjacent to the creature (Player’s choice). It has no force, so does not harm bystanders.


    NEW: DISARMING A CREATURE INSTEAD OF KILLING IT OPTIONAL RULE

    This is an optional rule that works similarly to Knocking a Creature Out (PHB p198).

    Sometimes an attacker wants to intimidate a foe with his superior combat skill rather than kill them. When an attacker reduces a creature to 0 hit points with a melee attack, the attacker can, instead, disarm the creature. The attacker can make this choice the instant the damage is dealt. the attack causes no damage or other ill effect, but the defender drops the item.

    The attacker may elect to send the item flying to land in a random space adjacent to the target (DMs choice) by repeating the contest and winning. Alternatively, the attacker may elect to catch the item by repeating the contest using Dexterity (Acrobatics). Catching the item is a free action.


    FOR REFERENCE: OPPORTUNITY ATTACKS (PHB p195)

    You can make an opportunity attack when a hostile creature that you can see moves out of your reach. To make the opportunity attack, you use your reaction to make one melee attack against the provoking creature. The attack interrupts the provoking creature’s movement, occurring right before the creature leaves your reach.
    Last edited by firstkyne; Tuesday, 19th April, 2016 at 02:17 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Take a cue from Errol Flynn. When you knock a sword or dagger from someone's hand, it goes spinning away and sticks into the ceiling, a tree, mast, post, wall, or cask; possibly narrowly missing the comic relief character.
    Or just use attacker's "interact with object" to knock it away.
    Last edited by thalmin; Saturday, 1st June, 2019 at 11:40 PM.
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  3. #3
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    As a DM, you just need to make it a little more interesting, by having the disarmed monster react in some other way than always just picking up the weapon and carrying on like nothing ever happened - like wrestling the PC's weapon away in retaliation, or whatever else you can think of.

    As a player, you'll just have to figure out some extra thing to do to take it out of the DM's hands in case he just had the monster pick up the weapon and carry on like nothing happened. Even if that's just kicking it away or picking it up yourself.

    So yeah, the system ain't perfect, but maybe there's more fun in figuring out how to work around it.

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    One good effect is it cannot use that weapon to make opportunity attacks. Another is if you have multiple attacks, you could ostensibly disarm and then shove (or use an ability to move the creature), then use your movement to go where the item is.

    I don't see anything wrong with it. You have to use this optional rule strategically.
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    If a DM decides to use this rule, there is no reason a DM can't continue to decide things like where specifically a disarmed weapon ends up once it is "dropped."

    Personally, I like to leave it open to situational interpretation so that the player can tell me where they are trying to make this dropped weapon end up - in their own hands, off the deck of the ship being fought near the side of, into that fire, and so on - and I can enable that attempt if it makes sense without the rule getting in my way by saying something specific about where the weapon ends up if dropped.
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  6. #6
    Disarming should be an option when you reduce an enemy to 0 hit points.
    You can choose to Leave him at 1 hit point and disarmed.
    Otherwise it tend to be a gimmick show.
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  7. #7
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    It's an optional rule. If you think it's broken, either house-rule it (as the DM) or talk to your DM about it.

    I house-rule it in my games (as the DM). I require a successful attack roll... and then an opposed Athletics/Acrobatics roll, with the suggested modifiers for size and two-handedness. In other words, it's a little bit harder then the single contested roll above. To counterbalance the increased difficulty, I usually create some cinematic reason why the opponent doesn't just pick up their weapon again. It gets knocked out a window or behind furniture, broken (if non-magical), scooped up by a PC, or some other circumstance.

    I've found that by increasing the difficulty, but making the disarm meaningful, it has achieved the desired level of use at my table. The players will attempt a disarm every now and then (maybe once every session or two), but usually only against someone who is clearly getting a major advantage from their weapon..

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    I think disarm is a fine feature and works as it intended.

    Picking up a dropped weapon consumes an action. Therefore, disarming a foe means he can not cause damage with it on his turn. This is great for enemies who do not have alternate weapons (or stronger natural weapons).

    Secondly, without the weapon, they are extremely ineffective at opportunity attacks.

    Example. Bad guy with two attacks with magic long sword. Player 1 successfully disarms enemy. Player 2 (weaker AC player unexpectedly in close combat with bad guy) can move away without fear of potentially devastating opportunity attacks. Or even better, PLayer 2 can spend action to pick up weapon and move away. Other players can close with bad guy and strike him without fear of the weapon attack. Bad guy can either use hands next turn or pick up his weapon (if it is still there). On player 1's turn, repeat disarm if necessary, or attack. Player 3 attack.

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    Quote Originally Posted by firstkyne View Post
    It doesn't specify where the dropped weapon lands, so it seems reasonable to assume that it lands in the same square as the owner.
    The Battle Master's Disarming Attack maneuver specifies the weapon drops at the target's feet (PHB p. 74). Interesting that the DMG doesn't specify this.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by firstkyne View Post
    The optional rule for disarming (DMG p271) is as follows:

    A creature can use a weapon attack to knock a weapon or another item from a target's grasp. The attacker makes an attack roll contested by the target's Strength (Athletics) check or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. If the attacker wins the contest, the attack causes no damage or other ill effect, but the defender drops the item.The attacker has disadvantage on its attack roll if the target is holding the item with two or more hands. The target has advantage on its ability check if it is larger than the attacking creature, or disadvantage if it is smaller.

    It doesn't specify where the dropped weapon lands, so it seems reasonable to assume that it lands in the same square as the owner.

    However, it seems that picking up an object (such as a dropped weapon) can be part of a creatures movement during it's turn, which means that it can pick up the weapon before making an attack. End result? Disarming is pointless.

    Is it correct that a creature could just pick up the weapon? Perhaps Disarm only works in conjunction with a second action on the part of the attacker: to grab the weapon, to kick it away, or to shove the creature away from the square where the weapon lands. Is that the intention of the writers, do you think? It seems convoluted. The whole rule section seems unfinished. Am I missing something?
    Youre forgetting that the disarmer also has a free object interaction.

    So after he disarms the creature, he can use it to (kick the weapon away) or (pick the weapon up).
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